Controversial Vernon area intersection upgrades set to begin

Controversial Vernon area intersection upgrades set to begin
By Megan Turcato North Okanagan Reporter
Global News 18 April 2018

Upgrades to make the intersection of Stickle Road and Highway 97 safer are set to begin next week.

The start of the project just north of Vernon comes after years of controversy.

There have been public consultations and the province has developed at least three different plans for the intersection.

However, what none of those plans included was what many local businesses wanted: a traffic light.

Instead, the planned upgrades solve the problem of dangerous left turns off of Stickle Road onto the highway by simply not allowing them.

At one nearby business, it’s left some feeling like the province wasn’t listening.

“It is just a little disheartening that we spend all the money and have all the open houses and everything and all the people come to voice their opinions and yet their opinions don’t seem like they are honestly listened to,” Randy James, general manager of Vernon Motorsports, said.

However, the province said it took the public consultation very seriously.

“We specifically had our design reviewed by an independent engineering firm,” Steve Sirett from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said.

“The review did come out saying that the signal would lead to an increase in rear-end collisions and supported the design that we are now moving forward with.”

Since left turns onto the highway will be blocked, the upgrades include a new road connection from Stickle Frontage Road to 20 Street to help motorists get back into Vernon.

However, that too, has been controversial because it involved the destruction of wetland.

“It is pretty much decimated. There is a little bit still around the creek but nothing like it used to be,” Harold Sellers, the former president of the
North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, said.

However, the province said new wetland, three times larger than what was lost, will be created near Swan Lake. For Sellers, it’s a net positive.

“We would have preferred to have kept the original wetland of course, but the work that is going to be done at Swan Lake will be very beneficial,” Sellers said.